Surrounded by a wide variety of musical styles from his earliest years, Thorne played both guitar and piano, performed in rock bands and jazz ensembles, and studied improvisation with Pat Metheny. An eclectic compositional style is marked by emotional directness and an irresistible rhythmic energy. His Three Love Songs (for solo piano) displays this spontaneous, nearly improvisatory style, eschewing any overt lyricism implied by the title. In other works that span genres of orchestral, chamber, and solo repertoire, the composer consistently links both tonality and atonality and popular and classical traditions.
Thorne's constant, close communion with nature is often a unifying element in his creative work. Compositions such as The Voices of Spring, Rain Sketches, or Songs from the Mountain evoke awe and mystery, capturing at times the "stony silence of the mountains" in block-like granitic harmonies or at other times the "linear vocal quality" of a brisk, northerly wind. Thorne has been commissioned by several orchestras and ensembles including The Philadelphia Orchestra for whom he wrote Revelations.